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From 0 to 45 – Your Car Was Just Stolen

Know the facts about motor vehicle theft and prevention.

According to a 2014 Gallup poll, as many as 56% of Americans rarely or never worry that their cars will be stolen. That may be due to federal legislation over the last century which increased fines and prison terms for car theft, while instituting the widespread use of VIN, or vehicle identification numbers, a valuable tool in tracing stolen vehicles and their parts.

And yet, a motor vehicle is stolen every 45 seconds in the U.S. New tactics include acquiring smart keys (which eliminate the need to hot-wire), switching VINs, using stolen identities to secure loans for expensive vehicles and breaking into homes to steal keys.

Vehicle theft happens around the country – no region is exempt. In fact, the 10 U.S. states with the most motor vehicle theft, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, are:

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Florida
  4. Washington
  5. Georgia
  6. Michigan
  7. Illinois
  8. Ohio
  9. Arizona
  10. Missouri

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), vehicle theft also knows no class, as it happens more frequently to more common, not expensive, cars - likely because their parts are in a greater demand.

  1. Honda Accord*
  2. Honda Civic*
  3. Chevrolet Pickup (full size)
  4. Ford Pickup (full size)
  5. Toyota Camry
  6. Dodge Pick up (full size)
  7. Dodge Caravan
  8. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee
  9. Toyota Corolla
  10. Nissan Altima

*According to the NICB, older Honda Accords and Civics account for most of these thefts, since the newer models have improved antitheft technology.

Be Smart - Use Common Sense

While vehicle theft is more common than you think, it turns out that all you need is a little common sense to prevent it. Auto insurance fast facts on car theftThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than half of vehicle theft is due to driver error, which includes leaving keys in the ignition or doors unlocked. They warn drivers to adhere to the following best practices:

  • Always take your key - don't leave it in or on your vehicle
  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park
  • Park in well-lit areas - in a garage, whenever possible
  • Never leave valuables in your vehicle, and especially not in plain sight
  • Don’t leave the area while your vehicle is running

In addition to these common sense tactics, there are new anti-theft features that can help minimize theft and even find your car after it’s been stolen. GPS tracking devices can be installed in your car, and if it’s stolen, can be used to pinpoint your car’s exact location remotely from your home computer. VIN etching, which marks your VIN number clearly on windows and other parts of your car prevents theft because chop shops generally won’t accept parts stamped with a VIN for fear they could be traced. And finally, don’t underestimate the old steering wheel lock that has been proven to deter potential thieves looking for an easy target.

Protect Yourself: Insure Your Car

Beyond safeguarding your actions around vehicle use and employing anti-theft agents, the only other way to prevent heavy losses should your vehicle be stolen is to insure your car.

A comprehensive insurance policy can make sure you’re not left without a ride, as certain policies will help cover the costs of a rental car and even contribute to replacing your vehicle. Contact your HUB broker who can help you secure the right coverage based on your state requirements, car make and model and desired limits.